A quick two hours after the opening kickoff, they had totally dominated the host team on senior night for the Tigers, winning convincingly 42-7.
Dyersburg (8-1) won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Ripley picked up two consecutive first downs to move the ball down to the Trojan 41-yard line before the Black and Gold defensive unit rose to the challenge and forced the first of six Tiger punts during the contest.
Clint Perkins corralled the punt at the Trojan 19-yard line where quarterback Will Bradshaw and the Dyersburg offense used passes and a mixture of runs to all parts of the field to move quickly into Ripley territory. Oshawn Smith broke through the Tiger defense for a 24-yard scamper into the end zone for the Trojans' first score of the evening with 3:02 left in the first quarter. It was Smith's first of three touchdowns on the evening, bringing his season total to 24. Senior kicker Evan Walden, returning from a recent injury, split the uprights for the point after to give the Trojans the early lead, 7-0.
A quick three and out by Ripley gave the Trojans the ball on the 47. A run up the middle by Smith, followed by a pass completion on the sideline to Billy Jenkins and a Brandon Sharpe run to the 1, set up Smith's second touchdown of the game with nine minutes left in the first half. Walden's PAT brought the score to 14-0.
After another three-and-out possession by the Tigers, the Trojans used runs by Carlos Caldwell to set up Smith's third touchdown of the half. Dyersburg went to the locker room at the end of two quarters with a commanding 21-0 lead.
Wanting to see his team play a complete game this late in the season, head coach Bart Stowe left his starters in the second half as the Trojans received the ball to start the half.
"We wanted to see our team play a full game and I think we saw that tonight," Stowe said after the game. "The boys are doing a good job of taking practice to the field."
The highlights of the second half looked a lot like those of the first except that other Trojans besides Smith got in on the scoring frenzy. Shavon Henderson scored twice on strong runs through the Ripley defensive line and Jawan Galicia's only run of the night was an 11-yard run to pay dirt.
When the TSSAA mercy rule took effect early in the second half, Dyersburg seemed to step up their speed on offense and defense. Ripley attempted to pass their way back into the game, but was only successful in getting into the Trojan end zone with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Smith continued his stellar senior season by adding to his already impressive statistics, running for nearly 200 yards on the ground while playing on both sides of the ball. Bradshaw continued to guide a potent offense by making good decisions and accurate passes and Walden returned to help the team with his foot as he hit all six point-after opportunities.
Perkins continued to play with speed and enthusiasm on defense while grabbing important passes when they come his way on offense. Aaron Gauldin's desire to win is evidenced by his no-nonsense approach to playing from the opening kick to the final horn. Shavon Henderson is a man on the field as he continues to step up when this team needs a spark while junior Montavious Lagrone runs through holes in the defensive lines that are opened by the proud O line of the Trojans.
Coach Stowe described it best afterward saying, "I think we played our best football game tonight."
The Trojans finish the regular season at J.C. Sawyers Stadium next Friday night when they play the Obion County Rebels at 7. It will be senior night but not the final game of the season. The playoffs are just around the corner.
Notes ... Before the coin toss at the start of the game, the TSSAA officials, led by veteran official, Jerry Carpenter, huddled at midfield to pray. When one referee was asked if the crew does that before each game, the response was, "We were praying for fellow official Robert Cupples who suffered a stroke earlier in the week." Cupples, who is a seasoned and a well-respected official in several sports, serves as supervisor of officials for the TSSAA. He is the assistant principal at Dyersburg Intermediate School and is recovering at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville. The officials' example reflects what many sports fans in the area feel about our friend. Our prayers are with Robert and his family, too.